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Student Spotlight: Baris Ulker

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 04/01/2019 Baris Ulker —Photo by Chris Urias Baris Ulker —Photo by Chris Urias

Goodwell, Okla. — Combine his 6’8” stature with the intensity he plays with on the court, and it is a surprise to sit down and visit with such a soft-spoken Baris Ulker off the court.

Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, the junior forward comes to Goodwell after playing a year of basketball at Gillette College (Wyoming) and then Central Wyoming College.

Ulker came to the United States as a freshman in high school and attended a preparatory school in Winchendon, Mass.

After meeting Head Basketball Coach Aaron Coombs, Panhandle State seemed a natural fit for Ulker as he really liked the way Coombs communicated and ran his ball system.

Coombs commented, “He’s an incredible person with a massive heart! He’s obviously talented but what he brings to our team that’s the most valuable is that he’s a great teammate.”

While Goodwell obviously has a different pace than that of the 60 million people he grew up with in Istanbul, Ulker enjoys it. He said his favorite thing about Panhandle State is “my teammates honestly and coaches. On and off the court, we have great chemistry. We look out for each other even in class.” He also really enjoys being at a school that has a football team as he hasn’t been at a school with one before.

Following graduation, the Psychology major would like to first play basketball oversees and then possibly become a counselor or coach all the while remaining active in the sports world.
Ulker’s parents have been very instrumental in helping him achieve his goals. His dad has been coaching basketball for ages 4-18 for over 40 years. His mom is a Physical Education teacher who played basketball in college and on an International Club team. Ulker’s brother is 16 and plays on one of the top teams in Turkey with goals to come and play in the United States in the future.

Technology has definitely been on the family’s side allowing them to see many of Ulker’s games via live stream.

“It might be 5 a.m. in Turkey, but they will still be watching my games. They are the first ones that I call and talk to after my games.”

While Ulker has been named Aggie Athlete of the week at Panhandle State, some of what he feels are his greatest accomplishments include being invited to an NBA camp called “Basketball without Borders” as one of the top 15 European players in 2014. In 2015, the team he played on in the summer, Team Turkey, finished second place in a European Tournament.